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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, at the recent CII AGM could not resist bringing in the travails of the land law during the address. ´The land law of 2013 is detrimental to rural India,´ he stated in alarm. ´The current law does not leave any space for rural infrastructure including irrigation, the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana and rural electrification,´ he went on. He further warned that industrial corridor projects would be stuck and 300 million landless people looking for employment emanating from these projects would be denied opportunities.
Later deputy leader of opposition Anand Sharma, made similar claims that there was nothing wrong with the law passed in 2013. Meanwhile, Union Minister of Roads & Shipping Nitin Gadkari, went on to say that the cost of the land was much too small in the overall project cost and it was the delay that was causing projects to become unviable. He cited the example of Western Coalfields which completed its land acquisition even at the added expense of higher land cost due to demands, but went on to enhance its coal production from 35 MT to 100 MT.
´Ease of doing business´ is another area on which there is great thrust of the current government. This too in a sense enhances the prospects of investments into the country apart from making a productive use of the time of our country´s businessmen. Without changing any laws, if our states were to be able to deliver services to our citizens in a timely and organized manner, we could end up improving our ranking to fewer than 100 from the current rank at 142nd out of 189 countries.
Amitabh Kant, Secretary, DIPP passionately announced that they would be undertaking a rating exercise of the states and would name and shame the top and bottom three states. He informed that Maharashtra had been able to reduce the number of days required for electricity permissions from 67 days to 15 days. Over the past month, the industry department has further reduced them to five. The five approvals include permission for land allotment, to mortgage, building plan approval, building completion certificate and final fire NOC approval. Approvals for effluent treatment plant, sewage treatment plant and water supply connection have been clubbed with building plan approval while the power connection NOC has been combined with the allotment letter. As per preliminary reports provided by the National University of Singapore, which is helping India improve its rankings, Maharashtra is right at the top followed by Delhi and Gujarat.
Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha, voiced the need to improve the tax to GDP ratio from our current 16 per cent to well over 20 per cent. He also indicated that the sizes of our banks need to quadruple in tune with our GDP which is set to grow from $ 2 trillion to $4 trillion. Union Minister of Power Piyush Goyal, asserted that the rise in output at Coal India by 8 per cent was a landmark achievement and that he was certain that import of coal would drop to a negligible number in years to come while solar power tariff would dive to under Rs 4.50 per unit.
Union Minister of Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu, enthralled one and all with his witty alliterations including the summing up of the missions of the current government as MISIDICI: Make in India, Skilling India, Digital India & Cleaning India. With all the heads of various ministries evolving out of the box solutions for achieving tall targets for their ministries, our nation is set to grow and how!
Currently this year seems to have begun high on rhetoric but will reflect low in terms of top line and bottom line. The cumulative effect of government spending will be felt closer to the third quarter by which time, if the monsoons have been favourable, it will create an upbeat mood in the last quarter. That sums it. Now brace yourself for a hot summer ahead.